Dan Werthimer is the Chief Scientist of the SETI program at UC Berkeley. SETI is the nation’s leading program focused on looking for extraterrestrial intelligence.
He did a talk that was part of the Bay Area’s ‘Wonderfest’, an event that invites many of the area’s leading science professionals to give short talks about popular topics in the field. At the Hopmunk Tavern in South Novato in Marin county, there were about twenty of us who showed up from the area to hear the presentation.
After the lights dimmed and everyone was cozy in their seats with their favorite beverage, Dan stood in front of a projector screen and opened with an explanation of extraterrestrial life forms in the eyes of scientists. The only reason why we believe they’re out there is because it’s improbable that they aren’t. He explained that life on Earth is a magnificent phenomenon and the chance that we’re the only intelligent life out there is very slim.
There’s a difference between ‘alien life’ and Extraterrestrial Intelligence. What SETI looks for is signs of life with civilizations as advanced or even more so than ours. They do this by scanning the sky through different methods. Telescopes and giant dishes gather data
One such method is called [email protected]. This is a program you can download at home, it uses your processing power is used to go through tons and tons of raw data. This data, from my understanding, includes millions of stars and their locations, measurements of waves like radio and microwave as well as readings of ultraviolet light in different parts of space. Wirthermer explained that if we were to discover intelligence among the stars it might be in the form of media like radio waves. This idea comes from what we know about our own reach into interstellar space and how far our own radio programs have traveled out of our solar systems.
As awesome as this is, we are very far from actually communicating with ET. This tech is as close as you at home can get to finding out if they’re really out there for yourself. So jump in and compute!